The Running Physio

TRP's Running Blog

Injury management, nutrition, training and running tips.

Racing in the Rain


One of my all-time favourite books is "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein. It's a lovely work of fiction that's written from a dog named Enzo's point of view. Enzo was born as a domestic dog, but he has a human soul. He is confident that in his next life he will be reincarnated as a human, and as such spends his days learning about human life from television and through the experiences he has with his owner, who is a professional race car driver. Together, they experience many of life's ups and downs, and Enzo's account is articulate and simple as he lives life as a dog, but has the compassion, empathy, and philosophy of a human. 

One of my favourite themes in the book is Enzo's plain statements about human behaviour. He can't figure out why we aren't better listeners, why we have such a difficult time living in the present moment, and why we cling so closely to our patterns, even when they are dysfunctional. A particular line that I love, 

"In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go. The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall…Simply another way of saying that which you manifest is before you". 

Us runners are a funny group. Goal-oriented, often leaning a little towards the A-type part of the spectrum, we are able to schedule in 60-100 km+ per week of training on top of holding down full time jobs, partners, kids, and a social life. It's a scary juggling act, and we rock it. Tossing injury rehab into this mix can make things even more challenging. 

One thing I see all the time is a deep and sober disappointment when I tell a runner that I don't think they should run their next race, or that they should choose a shorter course option instead. Disclaimer - I WANT you to race! So bad! As a fellow runner, competitor, and generally optimistic person, there's nothing more that I want to say then, "Yeah, you'll be fine! Go for it!" 

Alas, sometimes this isn't in the cards. I still need to hold down this pretty cool job as a physio with good judgement. But. More times then not, something really awesome happens. This patient who dropped the race or ran the 5k instead of the 42.2 comes back in the next few months happier, more grateful, and really, really, glad that they made that decision.

Together, we get to experience the feeling of gratitude for being able to move our legs in a strong and powerful way. We discover an awesome new spin class or cycling route. We get to revel in how amazing the energy from the spectators was with their witty run-pun signs. Or how awesome the confetti cannon was. Or how inspiring Ed Whitlock was. We remember that there is more to life than the time on a clock or a colourful medal. As much as injuries suck, they provide us with an opportunity to refocus our car on the long, long, track of life, and off of the upcoming wall.

Don't get me wrong - I love a PB and a sweet t-shirt. But I know that my goals are just that, MY goals. And I also love work/life balance, moving without pain, swimming, biking, hiking, dancing, yoga, planks, handstands, hamburgers, and having more than one beer on a Saturday night. Remember, you are not a lesser person because the clock tells you so or because your hip flexors are weak. You are still an amazing human being in exactly your own right.

Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend in Toronto!